african cuisine

85. Guinea Bissau: Jollof Rice

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Guinea Bissau is one of Africa’s secret most breathtaking little corners. Rich with wildlife, rainforests and decaying towns from the colonial era. So Guinea and Guinea Bissau might be very close to one another but the difference is immense!

Guinea Bissau is slowly transforming into a stable country with a stable government. While in Guinea there are still a lot of problems. In Guinea Bissau there has been peace and prosperity since the independence from Portugal in 1980.

Guinea Bissau doesn’t just consist of mainland there is also an archipelago that is part of Guinea Bissau, with beautiful, peaceful islands.

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Things you didn’t know about Guinea Bissau:

  • Contrary to what you might expect, residents here are called ‘Bissau-Guineans’, not ‘Guinea-Bissauans’!
  • Guinea-Bissau’s flag draws its inspiration from the flag of the Republic of Ghana. It was the struggle of the Ghanaians for freedom that inspired the people of Guinea-Bissau to put up a fight for their very own.
  • Former President Vieira and his rival Military Chief Wai were both assassinated in January 2009, though a stable interim government is currently in place.
  • In 2003, there were an estimated 8 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there was 1 mobile phone in use for every 1,000 people. In 2003, 15 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.
  • Western-style clothing is typical attire for work and daily activities because it is inexpensive and readily available, shipped secondhand from Europe and North America. Adults value cleanliness and modesty. Locally made traditional clothing is more expensive and is reserved for special occasions.

Jollof Rice is a real African staple! Very simple but delicious!Traditional Jollof Rice from Guinea Bissau

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78. Ghana: Meat Pie

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Ghana has existed since medieval times. Its name comes from the former Ghana Empire of West Africa: “Ghana” was the title given to ruling kings. The Portuguese arrived in 1471 to the land they called the Gold Coast (for its abundance of the stuff), and mercantile trade of African products to Europe commenced. Because of geography, Ghana became the center for the brutal trans-Atlantic slave trade on land subsequently colonized by the British and the Dutch (of course we had a part in it).

Now Ghana has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and political stability. It’s considered to be Africa’s success story. The Ghanese are very superstitious they are very firm believers in black magic and witchcraft, when you go to church on Sundays the services will be very loud with a lot of music to drive out the evil spirits.

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Things you didn’t know about Ghana:

  • The name Ghana means warrior king and dates back to the days of the Ghanian empire during the 9th and 13th centuries.
  • The trade in Ghana was built on salt and gold, that’s why British merchants later referred to it as the Gold Coast
  • Ghana was ranked as Africa’s most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index.
  • Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence post-colonialism. It gained its independence on March 6, 1957.
  • Ghana has the largest market in West Africa. It’s called Kejetia market and it’s located in Kumasi, the Ashanti region’s capital. There you can find everything under the hot Ghanaian sun, from local crafts, beads, cloth and sandals  to second-hand jeans and clothing, and meats, fruit and vegetables.
  • Water is not drank from bottles but from little plastic bags.

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62. Equatorial Guinea: Sea bass with 3 Sauces

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Equatorial Guinea does not have the best reputation; failed coups, corruption, poverty. Of course the country does have some problems and I wouldn’t recommend you going there for a peaceful holiday, but despite everything the nature is supposed to stunning in Equatorial Guinea.

Rain forests full of endangered primates and shores of nesting sea turtles. On the mainland, white beaches, forest paths and junglescapes await. Just don’t forget to calculate some bribe money in your travel budget, because it is guaranteed you’ll need it.

Equatorial Guinea

Things you didn’t know about Equatorial Guinea:

  • Spain only had one colony in Africa, Equatorial Guinea. They relinquished control on Oct 12, 1968, which is relatively early by 20th century African independence statistics.
  • Although the coffee and cocoa industries are among Equatorial Guinea’s biggest economy boosters, the average resident there generally doesn’t consume these beverages themselves.
  • Extended families often live together. When a couple marries, it is traditional for them to move in with the husband’s family.
  •  Since the discovery, the country has flown into economic stardom, but this country remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and it is very common to see officials asking for bribes around the corners of the country.

This recipe is a so much better then you would expect, my first reaction was: fish with peanut sauce that can’t be good? But I was wrong it was delicious although my absolute favourite was the avocado sauce.

fish
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53. Djibouti: Skoudehkaris (Djibouti Rice)

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To be completely honest I hadn’t the slightest idea there was a country called Djibouti let alone where in the world it was situated. After browsing my world map for a while I found a tiny little country next to Somalia right in the horn of Africa called Djibouti,so it’s in East-Africa! Great I haven’t had many East-African countries yet. It’s a quite young country it only declared independence 37 years ago, before that Djibouti was a French colony called French Somaliland. France took advantage of bountiful trade from the nearby Red Sea, Suez Canal and other countries such as Ethiopia, building the Franco-Ethiopian railway in 1897.

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Things you didn’t know about Djibouti:

  • Lake Asal: the third-lowest land depression on the planet, this saline lake is also the lowest point in Africa at 155 meters below sea level, and holds 10 times the salt content of any ocean.
  • It is the hottest inhabited in the world. Temperatures pass 45C/120F sometimes with and sometimes without humidity.
  • Space shuttles in need of an emergency landing can use Djibouti in the Grand Bara desert. Next time you are stuck in one and the engine fails, you know where to go. (I can’t prove this but it is a powerful and persistent rumor in Djibouti.)
  • Evaporation is the main activity. It makes the water go out from the famous Lake Assal. Even though the lake is very salty, it gives benefits to the life of the local people in Djibouti. People can use the salt for personal use. Sometimes, people also trade the salt for the commercial purpose.
  • If you want to use taxi, I suggest you to take it before the sunset. When the sunset comes, the fee will be raised 50%.

So this rice this is delicious. I never knew you could get so much flavor into plain rice! This dish did however remind of the first dish I ever cooked for this around the world project for Afghanistan so i you liked that one I can guarantee you will love this one aswell! It’s not refined food, but it’s good old comfort food you want to eat out of a bowl while crying during the Grey’s Anatomy Finale which is exactly what I did!

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46. Congo: Kondres

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I know there are 2 Congo’s but to avoid confusion I just did one recipe.

Yes we are officialy there, Congo… the poorest nation on earth. Some of you might know I grew up in Belgium, I was born there, went to school, my parents still live there. Here is what I learned about Congo as a Belgian colony. “Congo is a colony of Belgium in Africa, King Leopold the Second claimed it for himself and then around 1960 Congo gained independence.” And yes I did pay attention in history class since it was my favorite subject in school. I still learned NOTHING about how the Belgians left Congo or how they treated the Congolese. I think this is a disgrace! It’s like Germans never learning about the damage they did with the World Wars. Over 10 million Congolese were slaughtered (that was 50% of the entire population)! And for what,… ivory, gold, diamonds (sooo money???).

Congo

So on the bright side there also some things about Congo you probably don’t know:

  • The great apes, such as the bonobos and the eastern lowland gorillas, can be found only in Congo.
  • You should not take pictures there and local residents will get upset when you shoot them because it is believed that capturing a person’s image will remove his/her spirit.
  • The Congo rives flows through 10 countries
  • Despite being one of the poorest nations on earth the Congolese are a very proud nation. As said on Anthony Bourdain Part’s Unkown, even the poorest people spend most of their income on soap, clothes and their haircut. They take great pride in looking clean, fresh and well taken care off.

This recipe is great for using up leftovers of a sunday roast since you can literally use any meat!

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Ingredients: Any meat you can boil (I used left over roast lamb), 3 unripe green plantains, 1 large onion, 3 large tomatoes, 1/4 cup of parsley, 1/2 cup of basil, 1/4 cup of celery leaves, 2 teaspoons of grated ginger, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 green onions, 1 teaspoon white pepper, 2 teaspoons of curry powder 1 tablespoon of thyme, vegetable oil, 1 stock cube

  1. In Large saucepan boil meat seasoned with salt, and, onions until tender depending on the meat with plenty of water for stock. You can shorten this process in half by using a pressure cooker. Reserve stock
  2. Using a sharp knife cut both ends off the plantain. This will make it easy to grab the skin of the plantains. Slit a shallow line down the long seam of the plantain; peel only as deep as the peel. Remove plantain peel by pulling it back
  3. Cut the plantains into 2-3 pieces depending on size
  4. Chop the tomatoes, onions, green onions and place in a food processor or blender: garlic, basil, parsley, celery with a little bit of water -if using a blender to facilitate blending. Blend until puree.
  5. Heat up a large pot with oil, then add the tomatoes mixture, white pepper, curry, and meat with meat stock, bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Then add plantains, Maggi and/or stock / water (enough to cover the plantains)
  7. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let it cook until the plantains is super tender about an hour or more. Add water as necessary to prevent burns.
  8. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  9. Serve warm

45. Comoros Islands: Pilaou

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Scattered across the ocean the Comoros Islands a place you go when you want to escape reality for a little while or if you are fugitive it would also be the perfect place to hide out, since most people haven’t even heard about this mysterious little dot in the ocean. So what kind of people live in the Comoros Islands? The charming inhabitants of Comoros are mixture of Arab traders, Persian sultans, African slaves and Portuguese pirates. Islam, and all its traditions, is recognizable everywhere. Women are expected to show modesty and cover up, and alcohol is an absolute no-go. But if your idea of the perfect holiday is less about drinking rum punch in a bikini at a resort, and more about long, lazy days sipping tea and talking politics with the locals, then a safari in the exotic Comoros will probably be the kind of unpredictable adventure you’ve been craving for.

Yes this is what heaven should look like!
Yes this is what heaven should look like!

Things you didn’t know about Comoros:

  • The Comoros Islands have the nickname ‘Cloud Coup-Coup’ land because of their crazy politics, the three independent islands have experienced almost 20 coups since gaining independence in 1975! In fact, a Comorian president is lucky if there’s time for his official portrait to be taken before armed men are once again knocking on the door.
  • Comoros is the second-largest producer of vanilla in the world! Madgascar is the first.
  • Each island has its own dialect.

This rice tasted so comfy and heartwarming! Yummy for a weeknight meal! Strangely it reminded me a lot of the Afghan dish I did (that was my first recipe!), strange since they are so far away from each other! I mean Comoros is a tiny island in the ocean and Afghanistan is a freaking desert!

Pilaou

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38. Chad: Kachumbari Salad

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You could consider Chad as Africa for the advanced. Chad is no place to travel to for the weak. Chad is as real as it gets. Bribing the police is not the exception but the rule. Added to that, the summer heat is mind-melting, travel costs can be astronomical and the security situation remains unpredictable. So why bother going to Chad right? There are plenty of reasons to go Chad, frankly I don’t even know where to start! There are the sublime oases hidden in the northern dessert, the exquisite wild life in the National Parks, and the unforgettable boat trips on Lake Chad.

oase in chad

So here are some fun facts about Chad:

  • The average Chadian woman gives birth to six children.
  • The flag of Chad has vertical blue, yellow and red stripes. The blue strip symbolizes hope , the yellow stripe symbolizes the sun, the red stripe symbolizes fire and unity.
  • Chad is sometimes referred to as ‘The Death Heart of Africa’ due to the desert climate.
  • Chad it is about the size of Spain, France and Kansas combined
  • Did you know Chad is home to up to 200,000 Sudanese refugees.

It was a real challenge to find a recipe from Chad, they mostly eat tomatoes and onions apparently. So I made a salad. It was good but just so a little too basic for my taste.

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Ingredients: 5 tomatoes (thinly sliced), 2 small onions (thinly sliced), 1 red or green chili (de-seeded and lengthways into fine slivers, handful of coriander (finely chopped), juice of 1 lime, 3 tbsp olive oil, black pepper to taste.

Place the tomatoes, sliced onions, chilli and coriander into a large serving bowl. Mix together the limejuice and olive oil and toss this mixture through the salad. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately. This is the traditional version, but shredded cabbage or carrot can be added.

37. Central African Republic: Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup

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During my research for the Central African Republic I could find nothing but misery. So I started thinking what do I know about this misery in this miserable country. My answer: next to nothing. The only thing I know is that Kony has a lot of influence there. If you haven’t heard about Kony, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THE FEW PAST YEARS?

Despite being full of natural resources like gold, diamonds and uranium it’s one of the poorest countries in the world. Frankly there was not much positive to be found in the Central African Republic, it is a country torn by war. The conflict is way to complicated to explain. So I will just give you the recipe

This recipe is so delicious and healthy! Perfect for a cold winter night! And yes I added a little leftover focaccia bread. Too completely different continents but strange enough it worked!

sweetpotato soup

Ingredients: 1½ tsp olive oil,  2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 yellow onion, diced, 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger, 4 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium, 4 cups diced tomatoes ( canned or boxed with juices), 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, ½ cup natural peanut butter, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper¼ tsp cinnamon, chopped fresh cilantro

 Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger and stir frequently until the onions are softened (approx. 3 min.). Add 1 cup of water, vegetable broth, tomatoes, peanut butter, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover the pot. Let simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally (approx. 12 min.) To serve sprinkle over the chopped cilantro

26. Botswana: Vetkoek

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Botswana, the largest natural paradise in Southern Africa. Because of the limited tourism the wilderness is still untouched. With so many beautiful things to see it’s kind of the hidden pearl of Africa. Things like the impressive Victoria Falls you can fly over them with sightseeing flights, or ride an elephant on elephant safari if you are brave enough. Although Botswana’s biggest exportproduct is diamonds, it is still a very poor country, the rich are only getting richer and the poor are only getting poorer.  So yes Botswana is a beautiful and breathtaking country but it still struggles with a lot of problems like poverty and AIDS. So here we go fun things about Botswana:

botswana

  • The Batswana call foreigners “Legoa” this translates as “spat out by the sea”
  • Botswana is Africa’s longest surviving democracy.
  • Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa.
  • Botswana has the 7th lowest population density of any country in world. Plenty of room for the wildlife!

Here is a Botswana song. He is singing about his friend who betrayed him and then laughed at him when he was in trouble. He basically tells this “friend” of his to stop laughing because what comes around goes around.

This week I made an African version of a sloppy joe with a homemade bun. It is so good! There is this thing about kneading bread that I absolutely love, I am never going to buy a bread making machine simply because I love the feeling of dough becoming stronger and better the longer I work with it! The meat filling of this dish is amazing, the spices are perfect! Seriously this is such an incredible weeknight comfort food meal!vetkoek

Ingredients: 360 g cake flour, 1×10 g sachet yeast, 1 tsp salt, 1tbsp sugar, 3/4 cup water, lukewarm, canola oil, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 chopped onions, cut into thin rings, 1 finely sliced red chilli, 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced, 500g beef mince, 5 tbsp curry powder, 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped, 1 cup beef stock, 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes, 2 tbsp of mango chutney, 3 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped, Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste, 2 cups frozen peas

To make the dough, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the water, a little at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon until a wet dough forms. Knead in the bowl for 5 minutes or until the dough springs back after being pressed with your finger. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow the dough to rise for 30–45 minutes or until doubled in size. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onions, red chilli and garlic for 2–3 minutes. Add the mince and Cape Malay curry powder to the pan and cook until browned. Add the chopped tomatoes to the mince. Pour in the beef stock and simmer over a medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the potatoes. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10–15 minutes, stirring at regular intervals. Add the and mango chutney and coriander and season to taste. Add the peas. Once the potatoes are cooked through, adjust the seasoning and remove from the heat. Heat the canola oil for frying the vetkoek in a separate saucepan over a medium heat. Knock the dough back and divide into 16 equal vetkoeks. Gently drop 4 vetkoek into the oil and cover the saucepan with a lid. This allows the vetkoek to partially steam while frying. Cook for 2 minutes, or until golden on one side, then turn and cook the other side. When cooked through and golden, remove the vetkoek from the oil using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Cook the remaining vetkoek in the same way. Serve the mini vetkoek with the savoury mince and garnish with fresh coriander.